Jets rushing attack with Dalvin Cook and Breece Hall could be key to victory against the Bills

Mike Stobe/New York Daily News/TNS

Although a lot of attention Monday night will be on Aaron Rodgers’ debut with the Jets, old-school football could be the key to winning against the Bills.

Whenever a team acquires a former four-time NFL MVP like Rodgers., the passing game becomes the focal point for opposing teams. However, with Buffalo’s history of allowing an abundance of rushing yards in their losses, Gang Green could look to establish the ground game with both Dalvin Cook and Breece Hall.

“I think it’s good,” Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said about how the team’s ground game is going. “It’s one of those things I feel like we have a good plan going into this game.

“Every plan is a little bit different. Some teams, especially during the preseason, took away our run game by doing certain things and that allowed us to throw the ball a little bit. But I think the guys are excited and confident to run the ball.”

In the last few weeks, the Jets have gotten a double boost to their backfield with the return of both Cook and Hall. After signing with the Jets on Aug. 16, Cook returned to Florida to see the birth of his first child. He finally began practicing with the team on Aug. 29.

Hall began training camp on the physically unable to perform [PUP] list as the team eased him back following an ACL tear that ended his season last October. That meant Hall was doing individual work on the side with trainers while the rest of the team was performing team and position drills. Hall was activated from the PUP list on Aug. 15 as he has participated in 11-on-11 drills ever since.

The Jets have two starting-caliber running backs on their roster, so they must figure out how to manage both Cook and Hall’s carries. Cook is a veteran who rushed for a fourth-straight 1,000-yard season in 2022, but the Vikings decided to release him due to salary cap reasons. Hall will be part of the Jets future, so it will be understandable if the team wants to manage his carries throughout the course of the game.

“It’s a normal show for me,” Cook said. “I expect the same thing every year, be productive.

“I’m not worried about carries and all of that. I’m just trying to go out there and win a football game and have some fun. I’m part of a great group right now.

“I’m looking forward to winning a bunch of games with these guys. It has been fun just these few weeks I’ve been here, just being around the guys. We know we got a good defense, it will give our offense a chance to do a bunch of numbers.”

The Jets will face a Bills defense that got punched in the mouth the last time they were in a meaningful game. Buffalo lost the Cincinnati 27-10 in the AFC Divisional Round last January after the Bills defense allowed 172 yards on the ground. This was after a season in which the Bills finished in rushing defense as they allowed 104.6 yards per game.

Last year, in their upset victory against the Bills, the Jets had a similar performance. Gang Green finished with 174 yards and averaged 5.1 yards per carry in its 20-17 win over Buffalo.

The Bills will be without edge rusher Von Miller, who will miss the first four games of the season after being placed on the PUP list to begin the season. But Hackett still knows he will have his hands full trying to move the ball against a defense that finished sixth overall [319.1 yards per game] and second in points allowed [17.9].

“They’re very well coached, it’s a very sound system and they got guys that have been in that system for years,” Hackett said about the Bills defense. “The safeties, the back in, they’re as good as they come. No. 7 [Taron Johnson] is phenomenal. You got [Matt] Milano, he has been there, he’s a ball hawk, he’s all over the place and the line is crafty.

“You can tell they understand the game, they understand the offensive line calls and how people want to attack them. You have to be perfect when you’re going up against a team like this. It’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

Becton misses Friday practice

A day after he was limited in practice, Jets starting right tackle Mekhi Becton missed Friday’s practice due to an illness, Robert Saleh announced to reporters. It is unknown if Becton is in jeopardy to miss Monday’s game against the Bills.

Becton was listed on the Jets injury report [knee], but he actively participated during warmups on Thursday. Duane Brown [shoulder] and Hall [knee] were also limited during Thursday’s practices.